All photos © Craig Mackintosh
In my previous article I stressed how there is no sounder thing to invest in than a) Yourself and B) Community.
In this article I want to share some of the simple ways one can invest in oneself. For some this may translate and lead to finding meaning, a career and community — after all what we are ultimately talking about here is finding connection. For some this will serve as one more swift kick in the butt to get out the door and be the change you want to see in the world. No matter who you are, I hope you find this hopeful, inspiring and informative.
Options for investing in yourself:
The world abounds with educational opportunities! And when I say education, I do not mean the educational experience our society unfortunately churns out as the standard of education. Rather, I want to speak of an education without tests and finals, competition, stress and judgement. This is the education of knowledge, skills, experience and the culmination of all three into wisdom… and these courses are coming out of the woodwork! Canning and ferments, water and earthworks, arbouring and tree care, sewing and knitting, lathing and carving, dying and spinning, physical structures and community structuring! We are currently in the midst of a tidal wave many are calling The Great Reskilling.
Who doesn’t want to produce and to create rather than to destroy and consume? It’s this question in the back of your head that has you thinking of grandparents and course listings alike for answers on how to live again. Being a specialist in one or more areas/skills is a rewarding thing but beyond how empowering these specialities can be there comes an age-old lesson: with great power comes great responsibility. (Who can’t resist quoting Spiderman.) "The path to hell is paved with good intentions" after all. We must understand the bigger picture. To do this we need to be more than specialists, we have to be generalists. Otherwise we run the risk of just knowing more and more about less and less, and in ignorance repeat destructive cycles so repetitious throughout human history they are almost comical… almost.
The most empowering course I have ever done in my life is a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course. I have yet to even hear of a course that touches the level of understanding this course brings as a generalist who can see the larger picture and how to act within it.
The course speaks for itself (even if its participants didn’t); In one man’s lifetime it has spread from Tasmania to a viral global movement.
If I were to sum up this section on courses, I now classify courses by whether I take them before or after a PDC.
I need to share this amazing network! I travelled across Australia at permaculture farms and teaching facilities and I now travel across my own country using this network. WWOOF is an acronym for "Willing Workers On Organic Farms". The arrangement is simple: you give 4-6 hours of your labour in exchange for food and accommodations and the opportunity to learn from your gracious and awesome hosts. In this way you can get the learning of a lifetime. In the past year I have learned how to scythe, build natural structures, manage orchards, cultivate a food forest, hunt with a crossbow, raise livestock, fence, drive standard, use a tractor, repair degrading land and be a part of many thriving communities. When you consider that I am getting this education along with a bed and food while helping families have a right livelihood, I can’t help but think that this is too good to be true.
We live in a culture saturated in knowledge… with books, internet and university degrees but I ask you, where have all the wise folk gone? Wisdom is the who, what, where and why application of knowledge.
It is created through experience. WWOOFing offers you a one of a kind experience to know both knowledge and cultivate wisdom through experience. To excite and guide you into using this network let me give you some details:
- You can search by country, province/state and also by your host-to-be areas of specialities (eg. horses, permaculture, herbal medicine, wine).
- Once registered you can view the full description of your hosts and contact them to establish if you are a good fit for each other and slot in a time to come!
- You are asked to spend a minimum of two weeks at your hosts so you can learn and apply your learning! This makes sense on a practical level but also because your hosts are very likely busy people and to teach they need to get back a few hours of capable hands, not just educate and educate when the work needs doing.
- You get into the WWOOF network by going to your country’s web page and signing up. The admin fee varies but it gets you a year or two membership. The cost goes straight into the behind the scenes magic of making the network happen, not some rich dude’s pocket.
Kenton Zerbin on the PRI’s 10-week Internship program
I wish you all the best in learning and re-learning how to live and I want to link you to two very inspirational videos which I consider invaluable as a teacher. I show them to my permaculture students and for my mini courses and I wish I had found them to share with my High School students before I took my leave from that educational system.
I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate — Spoken Word
What makes you itch?
- Liberating Science and Imagination
- Letters from Ladakh – Culture Demolition in Fast Forward
- It’s Time to Re-Ruralise
- Changing Education Paradigms
- Pinky’s Scary School Nightmare – and Deschooling Society
- Letters from Vietnam: The Hmong People – Reclaiming Lost Skills